Traffic Light Causing Controversy -- Bono Bypass and Highway 63 Widening on Schedule

JULY 19, 2004 -- Posted at: 6:45pm CDT

NEAR BONO, AR - Semi-trucks continue rolling slowly through Bono, but that will change by the end of the year.

Work on the bypass around Bono began two years ago. Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department officials held a public involvement session in 2000. It was decided that a bypass and widening of Highway 63 would be best for both drivers and the residents of town. The drivers of semi-trucks and other vehicles that zoom past Gary Adams' business south of Bono will soon have to stop.

"I believe it would be good to get people to slow down through here," said Gary Adams.

Just north of his property is where the south end of the new bypass around Bono will begin. A traffic signal yet to be installed there will regulate traffic on Highway 63 and the bypass, as well as drivers heading south out of the town. Traffic heading north into Bono will not have to stop.

Adams added, "We've got trucks coming off this hill real fast. There's usually a lot of accidents right out here."

Semi-truck driver Virgil McIntire thinks the traffic light will create even more crashes. Despite the fact that signs and flashing lights will be installed to warn drivers.

McIntire explained, "I think that would be a bad idea. That's a dangerous hill anyway. Trucks gather speed going down that hill, and they have to ride their brakes just to get down it."

Bono Mayor L. M. Duncan said city officials wanted the light moved to a different intersection closer to Bono.

"Down on what we call 230, which is more of a straight road, where you can see both ways real good," said Duncan.

Joe Barnett, Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department District 10 Engineer, told us that a national standard required that the traffic light be installed there. It's based on safety, the volume of traffic on a roadway and the amount of vehicles either leaving or entering via the highway that will go into Bono.

Barnett explained, "We would need justification to relocate the signal, and the traffic volumes indicate it needs to be down there where it was originally planned, and the warrants of it at State Highway 230 aren't sufficient for a traffic signal."

There are two other projects connected with the bypass. The widening of Highway 63 to four lanes including a turn lane. One half is from Bono to Sedgwick. The other from Sedgwick to Hoxie. The first project should be done in the next couple of months. The bypass is about 75% complete, but a little behind scheduled. However, it should be finished on time by December - depending on the weather. The final part of the project, the Highway 63 widening from Sedgwick to Hoxie, is scheduled to be finished at the end of 2005. However, it could be the spring of 2006.